Pop Culture

Pokémon Detective Pikachu- Movie Review (Spoiler-Free)
By: Arca Baran

Recently, the trailer for the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie brought along plenty of memes, disappointed fans, and affirmation of one long-lasting “fact:” The video-game movie adaptation curse is real. Ever since the infamous failure of the Super Mario Bros movie in 1993, nearly every single attempt by movie studios to make a decent movie based on a video game franchise has been poorly received by fans and critics. So, if you told the haters one year back that a live-action Pokemon movie was in the works, they would probably insist that it would turn out terrible. But luckily, one film seems to have broken that curse. One film based on a Nintendo franchise, with live-action pocket critters and the voice acting of Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds. That film would be 2019’s Detective Pikachu, released a few weeks ago.

Now, what exactly made video game movies in the past bad? Well, poor storylines, unfunny humor, bad CGI, poor acting, and blatant attempts at “fan service” actually just being cash-grabs all spelled doom for countless video game film adaptations in the past. I guess I will debunk each of these points one by one, to prove that Detective Pikachu is an electrifyingly fun and hilarious tale that will not disappoint hardcore Pokémon fans, newcomers to the series, or the average moviegoer.

First, the story. Now, without spoiling anything, I will say that the film is loosely based on detective mysteries that you have probably heard of in the past. The film starts out with the main conflict point: A car crash near a Pokémon research center leads to the disappearance of an ace detective, Howard Goodman. The only one last seen at the site would be his furry Pokémon partner, a Pikachu who now seems to have gotten his memory erased. When Howard’s son, Tim, hears the news, he goes to his dad’s office, where he meets Pikachu for the first time. But it becomes obvious that this is no ordinary Pikachu; he insists on wearing Howard’s detective hat, has no idea of what happens next, and can talk to Tim. Only Tim can hear him, however; whenever Detective Pikachu speaks to someone else, all they can hear is a regular “pika-pika!

As Detective Pikachu and Tim dive deeper into what happened in the car crash that day, they learn that not everything around them is as it seems. So expect constant plot twists and turns that, while sometimes are a bit predictable, still managed to make me engaged throughout the relatively short movie. (It’s no 3-hour long Endgame beast of a movie, don’t worry.) The story isn’t super complex or deep either, but you shouldn’t go in expecting that. It is just a kid’s movie, after all. But it’s certainly not a bad or lazily-made one. It’s full of heart and humor, with a good message about friendship and family mixed in for good measure.

Next, the humor. I’d say that the humor is one of, if not, the best thing about this entire movie. Of course, casting Ryan Reynolds to play a cute and fuzzy Pikachu that makes jokes about caffeine addiction was an absolute stroke of genius from the corporate executives over at Warner Bros. I can just imagine then sitting down at a meeting and asking, “Okay… Who should play adorable little Pikachu in this kids movie?... Oh, I know! Deadpool!” So while there still are the moments of sillier humor aimed at young children, there is still constant edgier humor thrown in there by D.P. (Detective Pikachu? Deadpool?) that is sure to keep the older audience laughing out loud. The gags with the live-action Pokémon creatures interacting with each other are equally hilarious, and it makes the entire movie feel, well fun. There is no other word to explain it. I haven’t watched a movie this simply fun in quite some time; the last few months have been filled with deep cinematic universe lore and dark storylines that I honestly forgot that I could still appreciate a good ol’ adventure comedy. Not many of the jokes felt particularly awkward or cringy, which I greatly appreciate. Besides Reynolds’ comedic gold, the other acting in this movie was also mostly on point, and I can’t remember a single performance that didn’t feel mostly genuine and well-done.

And of course, one of the other stand-out things about this movie is its visual effects and CGI. Unlike particular other video game movies in 2019 (like a fast blue hedgehog), all of the Pokémon look believable and creepy enough to be funny but not to be terrifying. Audiences will be able to behold real-animal inspired fire-breathing Charizard, magic-wielding Mewtwo, and a Psyduck with anxiety disorders (whom was probably my second favorite one), as well as countless other goofy ones, like a grumpy Jigglypuff, tricky Ditto, and tongue-wagging pink thing I can’t remember the name of. Of course, out of all these CGI creatures, the one that the most detail and care was put into creating was the film’s title character himself, Pikachu. He looks shockingly realistic, like a mix between a cat and an obese rabbit (Big Chungus anybody?) with adorable bead eyes and that gosh-darn button nose and mouth. His entire body is covered with an impressive computer-generated layer of fur that I haven’t seen in any animated movie since the Angry Birds Movie three years ago. In other words, as soon as you see him, you’ll want to hug him for eternity, regardless of the fact that Deadpool is the one voicing him.

Next, the fan service. As you could probably tell, a movie based on the single most money-making media franchise of all time (fun fact, it’s #1 on the current list of rankings with and estimated $90 billion total revenue, ahead of even Star Wars), is going to make some attempt at pleasing the fans of a much-internationally-beloved three-decade-old franchise in ways that only the fans would appreciate most. Now, I’m not even remotely close to a true Pokémon fan (I think the concept is cool, but I’ve only touched one Pokémon game in my life), but I could still tell the amount of enjoyment that fans would receive from say, Pikachu comedically belting out the anime Pokémon trainer theme song, or the level of detail put into Ryme City, and the multiple references to the games and anime all lovingly put into the film. As a casual moviegoer, I thought that the idea of a city in which Pokémon and humans live together in harmony, rather than fighting or training as you have seen them before, was a good move and made it very interesting and magical. IGN’s official review of the film states that the amount of magic in Ryme City hasn’t been felt in cinemas since the first Harry Potter flick, and I’d have to agree. It gave me goosebumps seeing the introduction to Ryme City, crawling with hyper-realistic Pokémon critters, and I’m not even a massive Pokémon fan. It’s either that the moment was just that magical, or I’m just geeking out for no reason.

Unlike other video game movies, there is one main distinction about how this was made. You see, the people who made this movie are true fans who actually care about what they are doing and want to do proper service to the Pokémon franchise. The point of this movie wasn’t to make money (even though, let’s be real, the #1 media franchise in the world will make a truck-load of “moola”), and since the people making it knew very well that they didn’t have to put any true effort into it for it to be successful… That didn’t stop them from making it a phenomenally funny and true-felt adaptation of the Pokémon franchise as a whole. The references are done well, a more than adequate amount of effort is put into every second of the film, and it is enjoyable and funny from beginning to end. They knew that they didn’t have to try for it to be successful, yet they tried to make it a good movie anyways. Thus, that is the sole distinction that makes this the first movie to truly break the videogame curse, and if other studios follow lead, then the future of videogame film adaptations finally looks bright. But wait a minute… I see something blue in the distance. It’s speeding past faster than the speed of sound.

This is Arca. My power went out a few hours ago. All I remember was a flash of blue, and someone screaming out “GOTTA GO FAST”. I also distinctly remember that all the speakers in my home were blaring out Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise”. Oh well, just a nightmare. Hopefully it doesn’t come true… Because otherwise, the future isn’t bright, it’s blue.

Ready, Set, Brawl!
By: Anish Pallati

Brawl Stars is a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) mobile game that was released globally on December 12, 2018. Supercell, the company behind Brawl Stars, first released this game in June of 2017 to some countries, and slowly released it to more and more countries throughout the rest of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. It is finally available in the United States!
In Brawl Stars, you start with a brawler named Shelly, although you can earn another one for connecting the game to your Supercell ID. Before you can do any of this, you are given a tutorial on how to play. The controls are relatively simple: left joystick to move, and right buttons to shoot. You can click the shoot button again and again to fire rapidly (also known as quickfire), or hold it down if you want to aim your shot. Dealing damage to enemies and other players charges up the brawler's super, which is a special attack that differs for each brawler.
When you attack, the first mode you unlock is Gem Grab. In this mode, you try to grab the most gems from the middle and win. Killing someone results in the dropping of their gems. The next few modes you unlock are Showdown and Heists.
When you win in a mode (method of winning is different in each mode) you get trophies, which upgrades your brawler's tier. This does not help with the progression of the game, and can just be used to boast of your advanced skills. You can also earn coins and power points. Naturally, the coins can be used to buy things from the shop, just like any other game. Power points, however are special and very useful. Power points are used to unlock treasure chests. Some treasure chests contain star tokens that can be used to unlock even bigger chests.
Trophies can help you progress on the trophy road and reward you with special prizes, like abundant amounts of power points of coins, more brawlers, or large chests.
Supers are the normal special attacks that you normally get multiple times within a round in a mode. To unlock your star power, you have to upgrade your brawler to level nine. Both of the special attacks can be very helpful in all of the modes. There are different brawlers and strategies that are effective in each mode, like picking between a short, medium, or long ranged brawler, picking a lobber, ranged, or tank brawler, or the method of dodging shots that you can use.
The different modes are Bounty, Brawl Ball, Gem Grab, Heist, Showdown, Duo Showdown, and Siege, which don’t cost tickets, and Robo Rumble and Big Game, which both cost tickets. Tickets can be earned from special chests or from buying them with gems. In Brawl Stars, there are different maps every day. You can each a star token from playing a different map on each game mode once, every day.
Every time you play, there is at least one reward waiting for you. There is a free item in the store and a chest waiting for you to open every day you play, and the items you can buy in the store for coins are very cheap.
If this sounds like the game for you, download it now and give it a try!

All About the Samsung Galaxy S10 Series
By: Krish Shah

Have you heard about the new flagship phones? Flagship phones are phones that are most important to the manufacturer and are the highlight to the consumer, which means they are more expensive than the other phones in the company. For Samsung, the main flagship phone is the S10. There were other smaller ones that came out, but in this article, we will expand on the S10 Series. They are each high-end flagship phones, but they are different in many ways. Read on to find out which one appeals more to you.
The S10 came out on February 20, 2019. It came out with 3 versions this year with the Note 10 or Note X still to come. This year, Samsung also released the Galaxy Fold, a folding phone that turns from a phone to a tablet. It costs $1980.
The S10e is a cheap version and it is a more affordable version of the S Series. It’s kind of like Apple’s XR. The S10e costs $749. The S10e has 5.8in OLED Display (organic light-emitting diode). It weighs 150 grams and has a 10MP selfie camera. On the back it has a dual camera, 12MP Wide-angle Camera and a 16MP Ultra Wide Camera. It also has intelligent features like Scene Optimizer, Shot suggestions, Flaw Detection. It has camera modes like Food, Panorama, Pro, Live focus with bokeh effect Photo, Video, Super Slow-mo, Slow motion, and Hyperlapse. Additionally, it also has AR Emoji. The resolution is 4K and it has a 3100mAh battery, plus a 64-bit Octa-Core Processor. It has 2 memory types, 6GB RAM with 128GB and internal storage 8GB RAM with 256GB internal storage.  It is a single SIM model one Nano SIM and one MicroSD slot (up to 512GB). It runs on Android Pie (9) and has stereo speakers and Earphones sound by AKG and IP68 water resistance. It also has a Fingerprint sensor and Face recognition.
Now let’s move on to the S10. It is the regular model of the 3 versions. The S10 is $899.99 and has a 6.1" AMOLED (Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode). It weighs 157 grams and has a 10MP Selfie Camera. On the back, it has a triple camera -- a 12MP Telephoto Camera, 12MP Wide-angle Camera, and 16MP Ultra Wide Camera. It also has intelligent features like Scene Optimizer, Shot suggestions, and Flaw Detection and camera modes like Food, Panorama, Pro, Live focus with bokeh effect Photo, Video, Super Slow-mo, Slow motion, and Hyperlapse. It also has AR Emoji. The resolution is 4K. It has a 3400mAh battery, and a  64-bit Octa-Core Processor. It has 2 memory types, 8GB RAM with 128GB and internal storage 8GB RAM with 512GB internal storage. It’s a single SIM model one Nano SIM and one MicroSD slot (up to 512GB). It runs on Android Pie (9) and has stereo speakers and Earphones sound by AKG and IP68 water resistance. It also has a Fingerprint sensor and Face recognition.
Finally, let’s discuss the S10 plus. It is the biggest model of the 3 versions. The S10 is $999.99 and it has a 6.4" AMOLED (Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode). It weighs 175 g for the glass model and 198g for the Ceramic model. It has a Dual Front Camera,  10MP Selfie Camera, and 8MP RGB Depth Camera. On the back, it has a triple camera with a 12MP Telephoto Camera, a 12MP Wide-angle Camera, and a 16MP Ultra Wide Camera. It also has intelligent features like Scene Optimizer, Shot suggestions, and Flaw Detection and camera modes like, Food, Panorama, Pro, Live focus with bokeh effect Photo, Video, Super Slow-mo, Slow motion, and Hyperlapse. It also has AR Emoji. The resolution is 4K. It has a 4100mAh battery, and a 64-bit Octa-Core Processor. It has 3 memory types, 8GB RAM with 128GB internal storage 8GB RAM with 512GB, internal storage (Ceramic models only)12GB RAM with 1TB, and internal storage (Performance Edition only). It is a single SIM model with one Nano SIM and one MicroSD slot (up to 512GB). It runs on Android Pie (9) and has stereo speakers and Earphones sound by AKG and  IP68 water resistance. It also has a Fingerprint sensor and Face recognition.
Now that you have learned about each phone in the S10 Series, you can make an informed decision about which phone fits your needs the best.

The Best Budget Phone, Great For Kids!
By: Krish Shah

Motorola has come out with the next phone of their G Family. Its reasonable budget makes it ideal for all ages to use. The Moto G7 sells for $299.99 for a 64GB version. It weighs 172 g (6.07 oz) and the front and back is made out of glass (Gorilla Glass5). It has a dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by) and is splash-resistant. It has an LCD (liquid crystal display), capacitive touchscreen, and comes in 16M colors. It is 6.2 inches and runs on android 9.0 (Pie). It has a Qualcomm SDM632 Snapdragon 632 (14 nm).
Some unique features of this model are sensors, fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, and compass. It has a card slot and microSD, up to 512 GB (dedicated slot). It has 64 GB of storage and a 4 GB RAM. The main camera is dual 12 MP, f/1.8, 1.25µm, PDAF, 5 MP, f/2.2, depth sensor. It has an LED flash, panorama, HDR, and can take videos in 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60fps, gyro-EIS. The selfie camera is single 8 MP, 1.12µm, HDR and can take videos in 1080p@30fps. It has a loud speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack, active noise cancellation with dedicated mic, and Dolby Audio. It also has a non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery and fast battery charging 15W. It comes in Ceramic Black and Clear White. There are also motorola-exclusive shortcuts which are natural shortcuts to do things.
Now you can decide whether or not you want this phone!
The 73rd Annual Tony Awards!
By: Danielle Ahearn

Image result for 73rd tony awards As of October 2018, it was made official when the 2019 Tony Awards, an award show celebrating actors and the teams behind the shows that are performed on Broadway, would air. The date is June 9th, 2019. This will be the 73rd Tony Awards that has been held, the first one being held on April 6th, 1947. Some of the awards included are Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Performance by a Leading Actor, Best Performance by a Leading Actress, and Best Direction. These six awards are called the “Big Six” because they are the most recognized and acclaimed awards. Only four musicals have gotten all six of these awards: South Pacific, Hairspray, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and The Band’s Visit.
This Broadway season (2018-19), there were many musicals and plays that had potential to be nominated. The nominations were recently announced on April 30, 2019. Here are the nominations for some of the awards:

Category Nominee Show
Best Musical
  1. Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations
  2. Beetlejuice
  3. Hadestown
  4. The Prom
  5. Tootsie
Best Score
  1. Eddie Perfect
  2. Joe Iconis
  3. Anaïs Mitchell
  4. Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin
  5. David Yazbek
  1. Beetlejuice
  2. Be More Chill
  3. Hadestown
  4. The Prom
  5. Tootsie
  6. To Kill A Mockingbird
Best Book of a Musical
  1. Dominique Morisseau
  2. Scott Brown and Anthony King
  3. Anaïs Mitchell
  4. Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin
  5. Robert Horn
  1. Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations
  2. Beetlejuice
  3. Hadestown
  4. The Prom
  5. Tootsie
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
  1. Brooks Ashmanskas
  2. Derrick Baskin
  3. Alex Brightman
  4. Damon Daunno
  5. Santino Fontana
  1. The Prom
  2. Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations
  3. Beetlejuice
  4. Oklahoma!
  5. Tootsie

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
  1. Stephanie J. Block
  2. Caitlin Kinnunen
  3. Beth Leavel
  4. Eva Noblezada
  5. Kelli O’Hara
  1. The Cher Show
  2. The Prom
  3. The Prom
  4. Hadestown
  5. Kiss Me, Kate!
Best Direction in a Musical
  1. Rachel Chavkin
  2. Scott Ellis
  3. Daniel Fish
  4. Des McAnuff
  5. Casey Nicholaw

  1. Hadestown
  2. Tootsie
  3. Oklahoma!
  4. Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations
  5. The Prom

The Strange Case of the Not-So-Super Bowl
By: Arca Baran

     I am not a football fan, and I basically only watch it Super Bowl Sunday. I am not super familiar with the sport, but I find watching it somewhat entertaining. However, I wasn't there for just the game, of course. I was there for all the "extra noise." But this year's Super Bowl felt inexplicably strange. 
     Many people said that the game itself was boring and uneventful. I only watched half of it, but I do distinctly remember that at least an hour of it was spent without a single score. It remained zero-to-zero until the Boston Patriots got a three. I predicted they would win (I wasn't truly rooting for anyone, in particular, this year), and I was right. I woke up the next morning, and it was a victory of 13-to-3. So while they did beat the LA Rams, it probably wasn't a very exciting game. Only one touchdown was scored the entire time. Sure enough, it happened to be the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history. So no wonder that everyone (even my science teacher) was talking about how boring it was the next day. 
     But even for what I was actually watching for, it was somewhat underwhelming. Like any non-football fan, I was mostly there for the commercials. The Super Bowl is a very special annual event, with millions of Americans tuning into it every single year. That is why advertising spots are at an all-time high in terms of cost. A single ten-second advert can cost millions of dollars to purchase! That is why the companies that shell out this money to advertise usually make them extra-special and interesting. They are typically more original and fun to watch, since they want to be able to get more publicity and public attention. My favorite commercial in the Super Bowl was actually from last year, which is an M&M commercial where my idol, Danny Devito himself, turns into a human M&M. He also gets run over by a bus and asks people on the street, "Do you wanna eat me?" 
This time, though? Most of the commercials weren't super memorable. Some of the few that I was awake to enjoy were the movie trailers for Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel. Oh, and the Pringles ad where Alexa complains about being a cold, cruel metal device without a soul, until she gets interrupted by a request to play "Funky Town." Apparently, all of the good stuff appeared after the Halftime Show. When I was asleep. Some examples of stuff that I missed out on were an Amazon commercial with Harrison Ford, a Toy Story 4 trailer, and a tear-inducing ad for Xbox's Adaptive Controller (made for people with disabilities).
     But the part of the entire Super Bowl that got people talking the most would almost definitely the Halftime Show. I was actually looking forward to it, ever since I heard about it weeks earlier, and it had nothing to do with the people performing. I was excited about the fact that there would be a tribute to Spongebob Squarepants in it. In case you didn't know, the creator of the cartoon, Stephen Hillenburg, passed away last November due to ALS. So, in his honor, fans put up a Change.org petition asking for organizers of the NFL event to play the song "Sweet Victory." This was a song that was played in an episode of the show, which was a parody of the real-life Super Bowl Halftime Show, back in the 2001 episode "Band Geeks." 
     Things were looking good for the petition. It got over 1.2 million signatures. Both the NFL and Maroon 5 tweeted hints that they would fulfill the promise. And along came the week of the Super Bowl, and the voice actor for Squidward confirmed he was involved. So during the Halftime Show, lots of people were at first overjoyed at seeing the appearance of Spongebob and his friends, decked out in their band performing outfits, and the trumpet fanfare began! Then, it was interrupted by Sicko Mode, and the moans of disappointed fans could be heard everywhere. 
     Fans had mixed reactions to this. While overall the reaction was negative, some felt grateful that we got any clip of Spongebob to begin with. Even if it was just a few seconds, it was still a tribute to Stephen Hillenburg. However, others pointed out that it wasn't "Sweet Victory" like what was promised, and that it just seemed like the fans had gotten baited into watching it. Personally, while I love the fact that there was a Hillenburg tribute in any way, shape, or form, I still think that it wouldn't have been too difficult to make it longer. Even if it was too difficult and last-minute of a feat to choreograph an entire new song for Maroon 5, they could have just literally played the two-minute song clip from the episode, and the reaction would be much better. Even Nickelodeon seemed to be upset, since the day after everything was said and done, they tweeted this: “Def would have appreciated more SpongeBob, but maybe we’re biased?” Many YouTubers have attempted to recreate what an actual halftime show with “Sweet Victory” would look like, and some of their attempts are pretty good. They are exactly how this year's Super Bowl was meant to be remembered, but unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be reality. 

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